Social Media Wants to Be Free. Let It Be.

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in David Feng Views, Technology | No Comments

09:00 (UTC+08:00), 22 NOV 2013 | CHN BEIJING
ITEM FIRST POSTED BEFORE 07 FEB 2014

I’d like to keep today’s post a brief one — I’m a firm believer that rational, legal debate on the Internet is one of the best things ever invented — or at least made possible.

Social media is one of those places where we all are sharing voices freely. I love it when people from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and all over the place come together over a great variety of things — from discussion on the big topic of the day, to comments on whether or not I should get Cherry Coke or Mountain Dew. No, seriously, I had this happen on Twitter. It was great.

Social media, like I argued in my PhD dissertation, should be a place where there remains both order and freedom — and one doesn’t have to feed on the other. Whilst we should ban criminal content — much is the case in “the real world” — we should also allow rational, legal debate plenty of space and time. I’m not one for shutting down accounts just because I share a different point of view than you do. To me that’s something that sounds like Pyongyang. It just shouldn’t happen.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. This quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often misattributed to Voltaire) forms the centrepiece of my views on social media. As long as it’s legit and rational, we should allow all comments people hold to be aired freely. I don’t like it when I get redacted comments from an otherwise rational debate. The Internet and social media wants to be free. I say — let it be.

If there is a First Amendment in the “real world”, there’s no excuse it should be absent online.